Out West and Back East
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Written by Win Smith
Last week I traveled west to a meeting of the Mountain Collective Resorts with John and Kevin, two of my Sugarbush teammates. By the time of our arrival in Banff, Canada, the bitter cold had moved east towards Sugarbush. We experienced three days of great skiing with clear skies, temperatures in the 20’s and really nice packed powder conditions. There was also fresh powder to be found from the snow several days earlier. We skied Sunshine in Banff for two days, and Lake Louise on the third. In addition to the skiing, the views of the Canadian Rockies were spectacular. Both mountains are family-owned and operated like Sugarbush, and the staff was terrific. I had been there over 40 years ago, in the summer, but this was my first ski trip there. I would highly recommend it. As you know, our premium passholders receive a 50% discount on Mountain Collective resort lift tickets, and with the Canadian dollar where it is today, this makes the value even better. Of course, if you have a Mountain Collective pass, you get to ski or ride at each mountain for two days free and then get the 50% discount. While there, we spent two nights at the Fairmont Banff Springs and one at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. They are both grand hotels and offer free shuttle service to the mountains (which is definitely the way to go as parking is limited). We also ventured into Banff, a charming town with some excellent restaurants and shopping. The Hot Springs, of course, are another draw.
While we would have enjoyed skiing all day, we did have morning meetings with our Mountain Collective partners. What a group of smart operators with a passion for skiing and riding. As one person said “what we all have in common is we like to work hard, ski hard and then party hard.” So true. But this group also has a passion for delivering memorable experiences to their guests, and I hope to borrow a few of their good ideas to help us continue getting better each year.
While there, my daughter Christina sent me a picture of herself and a friend on the lift last Saturday when the temps were negative single digits at the base with a howling wind. I made the mistake of calling her a wimp one frigid day over Christmas when she chose to take the family to Burlington instead of skiing. On Saturday, without an inch of skin showing, she took a few runs and then retired to an early après at The Wünderbar. There is no question that last Saturday was one of the most frigid days in recent years. I was amazed that 900 diehard Sugarbush skiers put on the right equipment and enjoyed what I understand was some great skiing after the 8” of fresh snow we received.
We returned from Banff in time to ski on Sunday. With temperatures rising above zero and calm winds, I (and around 2,600 others) enjoyed a much more pleasant day of skiing and riding. It does look like the freezer from the North Pole has moved on and we will be seeing much warmer temperatures over the next week. In fact, it appears that a classic January Thaw will arrive starting on Thursday. At this point it looks like a quick one, and we would anticipate losing little, if any, of the cover on our 100% open terrain. Rain showers beginning late Thursday will be followed by a cooling, and will impact the snow surface. This is nothing our groomers and snowmakers can’t handle, and if the precipitation of Thursday and Friday ends with some snow, conditions should be in good shape for this busy holiday weekend.
As always, we will have a number of fun events this weekend including our Kids Torchlight Parade on Saturday at 4 PM with Murphy Moose, and our adult Torchlight Parade and Fireworks beginning at 7 PM on Saturday.
We will be hosting Sugarbush Living Open Houses in Gadd Brook Slopeside on both Saturday and Sunday. Local artisanal butter maker Ploughgate Creamery will be our featured guest on Saturday—come try some delicious Valley butter, and picture yourself living slopeside at Sugarbush!
Hope to see you on the mountain this weekend.